Book Review: Mindfulness and Meaningful Work: Explorations in Right Livelihood, Edited by Claude Whitmyer

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Book Editor: Claude Whitmyer has worked one on one and in groups with more than 500 career changers offering Good Work Guidance, his unique approach to career guidance (learn more at www.meaningfulwork.com). Mr. Whitmyer's consulting firm FutureU(TM) (The University of the Future, LLC, www.futureu.com) specializes in technology-mediated teaching, learning, and communications and has been serving colleges and universities since 1997. FutureU offers training in pedagogically sound instructional design and the practical use of web conferencing (Centra, Elluminate, Wimba, etc.) and learning management systems (Blackboard, Moodle, etc.) The California Virtual Campus was one of FutureU's earliest clients. Other California clients have included California Institute of Integral Studies, Columbia College, Dominican University, Merced College, Modesto Junior College,  Saybrook Graduate School, and the Yosemite Community College District.
 
Book Reviewer: Mark Meadows, Ph.D., is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California. He has held previous administrative positions in Barstow, Ca, Kansas City, MO, and Houston, TX. Mark worked,traveled, and studied in India, Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Asia. he has held many jobs in his life to include, taxi driver, water baby instructor, actor/model in Hollywood, short order cook, hotel room service, kindergarten teacher, and lifeguard. With such a diversified life of travel and work, his interests are in work, happiness, optimal performance, & ultimate concerns.

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Mark Meadows, Ph.D.  Vice President for Academic Affairs, Southwestern College
Abstract: 

Meaningful Work is a collection of essays on practical, speculative, metaphysical, and utilitarian aspects of work. This collection can remind us that work can be a locale for self-development and growth. This read can prompt a “personal redefinition” of constructive effort that requires our reflection on such concerns as play, change, and love. The irony of reading these essays is that the more you come to understand the nature and encounter with work-- the more you come away with uncertainty about your current conceptions of work.  

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This is a relevant read for those in academia who are a at ends with the convergence of a national and local economy affecting our every decision; a turbulent policy and educational reform movement; and a sense of disparate events in education that lack meaning and understanding. Such variables can lead to what sociologists call, anomie – a mismatch between individual, group, and social standards, behavior, and expectations.
Along comes a book which can provide us some grounding to these “loose ends” and how this focus can be achieved in the place where we serve a major portion of our lives – work.
A collection of essays on the purpose, function, and coordination of our work lives, it serves a grander idea of understanding how the greater social complexity of our lives can be understood through the self-developmental process of effort (e.g. work).
Some of the assertions from the book are that “no job should be exclusively non-manual; what we call work today fits us for unbelievably narrow competencies; or, we are only good at securing money, not at producing what we need; and, that fundamentally, we work to create, and only -- “by the way,” do we work to eat".  From the inspiring to the pragmatic insight concerning modern work, the perspectives within this book remind that work, even leisure, can be appropriated for our needs.  
It is abundantly clear from these essays, that not only is there no joy of life without the joy of work, but that the need for purpose and meaning in our psychological and social lives can be understood as a seamless whole in the world of work. 
These essays demonstrate that, psychologically, we can use every aspect of work to learn and grow. Sociologically, the world of work brings forth those same challenges we face in the rest of our lives. And implicit and explicit anthropological perspectives in these essays confront us with our current, narrowly defined western ideas of money, play, self-esteem, and routine effort. The metaphysical is not left untouched as it becomes apparent that until the workplace can provide the contemporary individual with a sense of place and purpose as a necessary part of human functioning, work as life enhancement and fulfillment will be difficult to realize.
If this book does anything, it provides a sense of understanding in the times that we live, on a perennial topic which most fail to understand. Each essay is both an investigation and meditation - where everyday, profane life and the abstract ultimate concerns can be understood in the world of work.
If it is true that authentic work and relations with other people within that work are a way of improving the quality of life as a whole, this book can be instrumental to that end.
Mindfulness and Meaningful Work: Explorations in Right Livelihood by Claude Whitmyer and Ernest Callenbach (Paperback - Sept. 9, 1994) from $24.24 at Amazon and from $5.24 at Borders Marketplace. Included are essays by Shunryu Suzuki, Beginner's Mind; Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly; E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful; Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self; Gary Snyder, Pultzer Prize-winning poet and author of The Practice of the Wild, and many others.